Welcome to the first episode of Procurify”s new web series “Not our business; but we”ll ask anyways.” Today we got the chance to meet with Trish & Kevin of Deep Cove Brewers & Distillers. They make great beers and some fantastic spirits.
Click below to watch the video:
“Wah Game Loop” – Kevin MacLoed (incompetech.com)
“Feeling Good” – Kevin MacLoed (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: by Attribution 3.0
Find Deep Cove Brewers & Distillers at:
Unit 170 – 2270 Dollarton Hwy.
North Vancouver, B.C.
Canada V7H 1A8
What motivated you to open up your own distillery?
Trish: Uh, the two founders actually just, I think it was kind of like every boys dream sit down talk about whether you’re going to open up a bar, a brewery, or start a band. And they chose to start a brewery and distillery, and I think that came from a fair bit of craft beer drinking.
Kevin: For me personally the motivation to become a brewer, I couldn’t make a living in a band as Trish says so I started homebrewing and tried to make a career out of it. So that I could be working with my hands and on my feet and not stuck at a desk. So my passion for beer brought.
How has the procurement of ingredients changed since you first opened?
Kevin: The strategy really hasn’t changed, fortunately we have some very good suppliers in the West Coast here for the Craft Brewing industry. We’re able to source malts from a variety of different maltsers, from all over Europe and North America. It comes to us from a country called Country Malt Group, so they’re a one-stop shop for the grains. For the hops we’re able to get New Zealand Hops, Australian Hops, and German and American hops from the Yakima valley all from hops connect. It’s been easy to source the raw materials we needed from a few sup liers that have been good.
Does outsourcing ingredients from different hemispheres become a problem for you?
Kevin: As a brewer you try to forecast what your years output is going to be, and you try to have an idea of what type of beers you want to brew. In our case we didn’t want to launch our Rye IPA Star struck until we were sure we had the hops we wanted, those key hops happened to come from the southern hemisphere. So we waited until we were able to contract the hops from hops connect when the harvest would have happened in the southern hemisphere, and then shipped over. We waited until that was all complete so that we could start brewing RYE IPA consistently from then on. But we did contract enough quantity so we could brew year round without running short. As the brewer you need to forecast production and decide what volume you’ll need for the whole year so you don’t run out. There is an issue now because there are so many craft brewers starting up all over the world, and the IPA revelation has changed the game so all the special hops have really come into short supply. So brewers have to be choosy about what hops they will use in their hoppy beers because there is just not enough Amarillo, Simco, even Centennial on the market. Especially not really boutique hops like Nelson Sauvant from New Zealand.
Do you often run into quality control problems when it comes to brewing and distilling?
Kevin: That should not happen. When it does happen there are big problems, there are angry phone calls. It’s the job of the supplier to insure their stock will be good all year long it’s much easier for the malt supplier to do that than the hop suppliers. If there’s any oxygen in grass with hops, they’ll start to turn a cheesy flavour and all those vibrant robust flavours you get in the IPA will start to go bad in the worst way. So the hop suppliers have a more difficult task than the malt suppliers do, so they’re really haven’t been many difficulties and it shouldn’t come up. But things come up from time-to-time, no big disasters though.
What do you think could ultimately improve the procurement of ingredients and equipment?
Kevin: Well it is beneficial as a brewery to bulk order your base materials, if you’re a lager brewery you’re typically using a pilsner malt which is a very pale, nice light sweet malt. Also a blank canvas for your beers type of malt. So if you can put that in a silo and order large amounts at one time, then you’re projecting brews and brews ahead. But if you’re just getting it delivered on pallets and bags that cuts you back a little bit, you’re only thinking a few brews ahead not a bunch. So having a bulk container like a silo will help you massively. Ours will come online shortly, and that will be an exciting day. Otherwise maintain a good relationship with your suppliers because it is a service as well as a product they are providing you with, if you’re good to them, they’ll be good to you.
How difficult do you find outbound activities, such as distribution?
Trish: Some of the problems you run up against are kind of two-fold. There are only two ways to get your product out on the market. One is to go through the LDB and that requires every single one of your products to go to one of their warehouse, and then their drivers send it out. The problem with that is you lose control of your product. You can’t choose which stores get it first. If there’s a driver strike, which there was about a year ago, no beers going out. So I’m getting angry phone calls, but I can’t do anything about it. The flip-side is to direct deliver, which is what we currently do. And that means we get to do door-to-door deliveries and the problem with that is when you are delivering everything yourself you can’t necessarily get to all of the areas you’d like to because you don’t have enough distribution to warrant sending that case of beer out to that store, that’s that far away.
Are there any management best practices in supply chain and distribution which you believe could lead to a competitive advantage?
Trish: Like any business, try to be as organized as you can. And when you say you’re going to do something, do that. Undersell and overwhelm is a key idea to go with and it’s not always an easy to achieve. As long as you’re constantly making your business better and try to improve on the things that aren’t working then you’re making those steps forward.
Finally, is there anything new that you guys are working on with your tasty brews?
Trish: Yeah we actually just launched the first beer of our session series. So we’ve decided every month or so, the boys in the back get to experiment with a new low alcohol percentage beer. The first one is a coconut porter, which I believe is 4.5%.
Kevin: No that one is more around 4%.
Trish: It’s actually quite a light and summery beer, despite the fact it is a porter. And the response that we’ve got so far has been phenomenal. And the next one is going to be a peach golden ale, that we’ll probably be releasing in a month.
Kevin: We’ll have a different one every month and that will continue all year long. The flavours of the beers will change according to the season. There has been a cry from the market to provide them with full flavoured lower alcohol beer, so people that don’t want to get absolutely blasted at the bar or the restaurant can have a couple or the driver can have one. So we’re happy to provide.
Trish: So it’s kind of the new and exciting thing for us, as we’re starting to get pretty heavily into our spirits. We recently released some of our gin in small ice wine bottles and a spirit that we made from our pale ale.
Kevin: And we’ve had a lot of fun making it as well. Once we get our gin into regular rotation and into larger bottles, you’ll see a lot more specialty experimental gins coming out of here that will only be available at the front. So you have to come and visit!